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Saturday, November 05, 2005

O ódio pela Liberdade

Anti-U.S. Protests Flare at Summit

Anti-American demonstrators torched storefronts and battled police Friday in this Atlantic resort following a large, peaceful protest, spearheaded by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, over President Bush's plans to revive a free trade accord at a regional summit.

While Bush held closed-door meetings with allies among the 33 other presidents attending the fourth Summit of the Americas, Chavez antagonized him from the sidelines, rallying thousands of supporters in a nearby soccer stadium with a promise to bury U.S.-style capitalism throughout Latin America.

"Each one of us brought a shovel, a gravedigger's shovel, because here in Mar del Plata is the tomb of the Free Trade Area of the Americas," Chavez told the cheering crowd of 40,000 at the noon rally.

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After the rally, some demonstrators formed small groups, smashing store windows with bricks and setting bonfires of looted furniture in the largely deserted downtown area.

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Much of the public's animus was aimed directly at Bush. Hundreds of protesters had traveled through the night from Buenos Aires in a mass pilgrimage led by Maradona. Carrying signs comparing Bush to Adolf Hitler, the protesters chanted in unison as they filed into the stadium: "Bush, the fascist! Bush the terrorist!"

Backed by a giant portrait of the Argentine-born Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara, Chavez addressed the crowd for more than two hours. He touched on many of his favorite themes: the injustice of U.S. economic policies, his opposition to the war in Iraq, his allegations of a U.S. plan to invade Venezuela and his dream of a "Bolivarian revolution" that would spread socialism throughout Latin America.

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"We're a people united against free trade, because free trade is a policy of death for our countries," said Carlos H. Reyes, 54, of Honduras.
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